Gay couple on resort with mountains in the background on the Islands of Tahiti

The Islands of Tahiti:
The Treasured Test


The crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, and not to mention some 118 islands and atolls which offer natural beauty and authentic culture have been calling OutThere luxury travellers to the Islands of Tahiti for decades. But now, a renewed commitment to its long-cherished values of LGBTQ+ acceptance – through Tahiti Tourisme’s latest campaign – will surely inspire us to return, or set foot on the islands for the first time.

It was on a recent trip to the Islands of Tahiti that we were beguiled by its ethereal power. It is a place that inspired us to reconnect with life in the purest of ways. And while it has become somewhat of a travel cliché to say that places have ‘energy’, it couldn’t be truer on these celebrated islands – “male, female, benevolent, nurturing… yet fierce and uncompromising.” They even have a name for it… ‘Mana.’

Its remoteness is undoubtedly part of its charm. But with that comes concerns among OutThere travellers – especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ – around whether it will be safe and authentically welcoming. In the age that we are living in now, that need goes beneath the polished marketing veneer of rainbow-washing and virtue-signalling. While many destinations and travel providers mean well, and laws and protections may exist, cultural disparities in some places can still pose challenges, leaving visitors vulnerable to discrimination.

The Islands of Tahiti have long seen LGBTQ+ travellers on its shores, particularly as a honeymoon destination. Many queer couples will put this down to the ‘energy’ that we speak of above, IYKYK (if you know, you know!) But there is a culture of acceptance there, that embraces gender diversity in a way that goes beyond conventional notions.

In Tahitian culture, gender fluidity and diverse sexual orientations were historically accepted and integrated into society. The concept of ‘Mahu’ (individuals who embody both binary characteristics) has deep cultural roots on the islands and has been traditionally respected and in many cases, even venerated… long before colonialism reared its ugly head. As such, there is also a deep respect for individuality and personal expression, extending naturally to islanders who are (in today’s terms) ‘LGBTQ+’. Add to all of this, a contemporary context of the inclusive protections of modern French law, as part of French Polynesia.

The South Pacific in general, is having a bit of a moment. For example, just last week, The Experientialist® was part of Cook Islands’ first Pride celebrations. But back in the Islands of Tahiti, the local tourism board, Tahiti Tourisme, has launched a new campaign called ‘The Treasured Test’, specifically extending an invitation to LGBTQ+ travellers to experience the natural warmth and welcome of the islands.

With authenticity as a guiding principle, Tahiti Tourisme invited real LGBTQ+ travellers, instead of actors, to take part and share their unfiltered impressions. They comprised a cross-section of LGBTQI+ identities, including US lesbian couple Jen and Jess, French gay couple Seb and Diego, and two Japanese friends Yuma and Mizuki, both transgender men. A film crew shadowed the protagonists as they experienced all the highlights a vacation in The Islands of Tahiti can offer. Heartwarmingly, the group unanimously found amazing warmth in their interactions with locals, feeling completely at ease and liberated from the need to mask any aspect of their identity. The resounding consensus affirmed that The Islands of Tahiti offers a sanctuary where everyone is unequivocally ‘treasured’.

Find out what the group thought of their journeys at

Photography courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme

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